Broadband and communications provider KCOM Group Limited has announced plans to invest approximately £100 million to expand its full fibre broadband network.
KCOM, which completed a full fibre broadband rollout to around 200,000 properties across Hull and East Yorkshire last year, has revealed new plans to push beyond the company’s traditional boundaries to tens of thousands more homes and businesses.
KCOM chief executive Dale Raneberg said: “Our investment in Fibre To The Premises technology to date has made Hull the UK’s first full fibre city, with broadband speeds that are the envy of the rest of the UK.
“I’m delighted to announce the first phase of our new, ambitious plans to bring our award-winning broadband to many more homes and businesses in East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. By investing to develop and expand our networks we hope to deliver benefits to residents through infrastructure that will also underpin growth and innovation across the region.
“Our full fibre infrastructure is contributing to the creation of a regional powerhouse. This new programme will more than double our investment in Fibre To The Premises.”
KCOM’s expansion plans are the first phase of a wider programme of investment to increase regional fibre accessibility, supported by its new owner, MEIF 6 Fibre Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 6 SCSp (an investment fund managed by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (Europe) Limited), which acquired the company in August 2019.
The plans support the Government’s goal to make gigabit-capable connectivity available nationwide. Just 11% of UK properties currently have access to full fibre broadband.
Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “We want every corner of the country to benefit from world-class, gigabit-speed broadband, so I welcome this big investment from KCOM to give more businesses in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire the opportunity to take advantage of the fastest internet connections.”
Figures from industry experts ThinkBroadband show that from October to December 2019 the average speed on Hull’s full fibre network was 101Mbps (megabits per second).
KCOM’s investment in full fibre broadband in the city has had a substantial impact, with the benefits of ultrafast broadband going well beyond faster browsing. Research from tech research consultancy Innovation Observatory found that the overall estimated cumulative economic impact was more than £469 million between 2012 and 2018.
Beckie Hart, regional director of the Confederation of British Industry, said: “Full fibre connectivity is the key to unlocking the potential of businesses of all shapes and sizes across the UK.
“KCOM’s investment in making Hull the UK’s first full fibre city is already delivering benefits to the economy there. I welcome the news of its plans to invest further to make this vital infrastructure available to many more thousands of homes and businesses in the region.”
Raneberg said: “The £100m investment we’re announcing today is a huge vote of confidence in our regional business from our new owners, who recognise the great potential this region has to grow and prosper with quality ultrafast broadband.”
[Farel James – CubanEight]